Day 16 is a New Moon – the Hebrew month of Iyar is upon us, and at 7:30AM I show up at a makeshift synagogue at the basement of the Jewish Theological Seminary to demonstrate Storahtelling’s Maven Method for a group of rabbinic, cantorial and educational students and staff. Been a while since I’ve attended services this early in the morning, and I get up an hour early to make it all the way to the Upper West Side. Once inside the room I wrap myself with leather tefililn, and join the praying group, mumbling along. not all that excited.
But soon it’s time for Halel – the special praise section of liturgy reserved for new moons and holidays, and the familiar melodies take over. Everyone is singing. me too – moved, recalling the words, the tunes, the function of pausing to praise the present, to honor the mystery of time.
Day 16 is Gevurah of Tiferet – structure within the heart, discipline of emotion – rhythm, meter, beat – how music becomes singable, playable, alive. How stories need a beginning, middle, end – You gotta have the structure in order to appreciate the melody, the plot. You need structure to contain spirit – like a bottle contain wine – but how does the structure not become a cage?? hoe does the container not become dull routine?
My challenge today: honor the structures that contain the soul – the religious forms that make the spiritual possible – like JTS, like a morning service, like the discipline of this daily count. My task today: Halel – praise. err on the side of more positive sentiments and praising what is. The New Moon is an ancient holiday, marking the menstrual, lunar, cyclical wonder of wonders – where we come from and what we are. IN Hebrew the word YA – as in HalleluYA stands for the number 15 – the night on which the moon is full. Thus the name YAH, so beloved by rastas and pastors – means full moon – an old old name for the sacred divine, feminine and eternal. What’s not to praise? My favorite line of the Hallel:
“I am not dead – live, and I tell the tale of Yah – the full moon, the full wonder. Hallelu-ya.
praise be.
34 to go.

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